Coronado High School students enjoy carnival festivities during Human Relations Day
On Friday, January 11th, Coronado High School students took the day off from academic classes to participate in a school-wide Human Relations Day. We arrived promptly at 7:55am, and not quite sure what to expect from the day. In a small, close-knit town like Coronado, friendship groups and cliques are steadfast and difficult to break into, especially for new students. When we look at a classmate, sometimes we don’t see much more than their group of friends and their Facebook profile picture. Human Relations Day gave us the opportunity to change all of that by breaking down the stereotypes that we’d created for ourselves and interacting with people that we’d already ‘labeled’ without ever really talking to.
“Our main reason to have a Human Relations Day is to build a sense of community at CHS,” said school counselor Debbie Collins. Because students can spend upwards of seven hours a day at school, having a strong support system of peers and teachers is crucial to a student’s overall high school experience. “We hope that after today, students have lots of new friends.”
Prior to Human Relations Day, students were randomly assigned to a CHS classroom to meet the group of students they would spend the day with. Each group was comprised of students from diverse backgrounds and all grade levels.
After a few minutes of introductions and icebreakers, we started with an activity called “Crossing the Line.” The teachers read statements, and students had to walk across a taped line in the middle of the classroom if they felt that the statement applied to them. For example – when our teacher said “Cross the line if you have ever seen another student being bullied,” nearly every student in the classroom stepped across the line. The activity showed us that everyone has had similar experiences.
The next game we played was called "Cows Ducks Chickens." Each student was given a paper with the name of a common animal and told not to share their identity with those around them. Everyone then got up and milled around in the middle of the classroom, making the trademark noise of their animal and trying to find more members of the same species. By the end of the game, there were small clusters of sheep, dolphins, crows, and of course, cows, ducks and chickens. However, there wasn't a match for everyone. One lonely frog stood in the middle of the room, making "ribbit" noises for no one to hear. The two spiders in my group never managed to find each other at all. At some points, it may have been tempting to change my animal - to make a cow moo instead of a duck quack just to fit in with the cows. This activity was reminiscent of the dynamics of high school in that everybody is trying to find a group that they fit into. Not everyone was able to find a group - and that's okay.
During an extended lunch period, Coronado students enjoyed a variety of carnival activities including a dunk tank, face painting station, and photo booth. Our school ASB (Associated Student Body) provided cotton candy, popcorn and hot chocolate.
The day culminated with a presentation by motivational speaker Jon Sundt, founder of Natural High, an organization dedicated to the prevention drug use and abuse. He taught CHS students about the importance of making smart and healthy decisions by telling his own story.
Sundt, who graduated from Coronado High School and currently lives in La Jolla, lost his two younger brothers to drug addiction. Natural High uses facts and celebrity testimonials to teach kids about finding a “natural high” – for example a sport, activity, or art that they are passionate about – and choose that natural high over drugs. You can learn more about Sundt’s story and the organization he founded here: http://www.naturalhigh.org/.
Having entered campus that morning unsure of what the day would hold, I came away from Human Relations Day with a deeper appreciation for my classmates. I think we all learned something about each other and ourselves. Speaking to my fellow students afterwards, I know my peers had a similarly positive experience.
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